Experiencing connection is essential for mental health and social-emotional well-being. Last week’s Wellness Wednesday focused on sharing my story with others as a way to experience connection. Helping others is another meaningful way of experiencing connection and nurturing our mental, social, and emotional health.
Yesterday I watched my kindergarten grandson Michael’s baseball game. At this age the coach pitches to the kids. But what really drew my attention was my grandson Matt, Michael’s third-grade brother. Because there were lots of swings and misses, Matt would gather the balls and throw them back to the pitcher. If it was clear that a young player wasn’t going to hit a pitched ball, Matt put a ball on a tee to make it easier to hit. Once the player hit the ball, Matt reminded him to run to first base.
When the game ended, Matt joined the team in a post-game huddle. Matt asked the coach if he could share something with the players. He then told the players that they would play better if they stayed focused during the game. After the huddle, Matt walked Michael to the dugout where he helped his brother put his bat, glove, and water bottle into his backpack.
As the boys headed off the field, I realized that my grandson Matt was reminding me of what Mahatma Gandhi meant when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
The act of helping others has huge implications for health and well-being. In his book Together, Dr. Vivek Murthy references Dr. Naomi Eisenberger whose research has found that “helping others lowers activity in the brain’s stress and threat centers, including the amygdala….At the same time, increased activity is seen in the parts of our brain associated with caregiving and rewards….This indicates that helping others reduces our stress even as it increases our sense of well-being, making it an important antidote to the pain of loneliness and disconnection.”
Helping others not only benefits others, but ourselves as well. Maybe a meaningful way to address the growing ills in our country is to practice what John Kennedy proposed during his inauguration:
“Helping others helps us feel competent and purposeful,
and it gives our actions added meaning by extending their value to others.
In short, helping others helps us feel we matter,
and mattering feels good.”
Reflection: What opportunities do we have each day to help others? How can we offer the young people in our lives more opportunities to help others as well?
From our team…Willow, Kevin, and Tom…who continually demonstrate their commitment to serving others.
Paul Bernabei, Director
Top 20 Training